Abadan (آبادان) is a city in the Khuzestan province in southwestern Iran (30°21’N 48°17’E). It lies on Abadan Island [68 km/42 mi long, 3-19 km or 2-12 miles wide, the island is bounded in the west by the Arvand (اروند رود)(or Shat-ol Arab) waterway and to the east by the Bahmanshir (بهمنشیر) outlet of the Karun River (رودخانه کارون)], 53 kilometres (33 mi) from the Persian Gulf (خلیج فارس), near the Iraqi-Iran border. It is the capital of Abadan County.
Abadan is named for Abbad, a member of the Abbasid dynasty who founded the city in the 8th century. It originally developed as a port city under the Abbasids’ rule, but it was not until the 20th century that rich oil fields were discovered in the area. The Anglo-Persian Oil Company built their first oil refinery in Abadan, starting in 1909 and completing it in 1913. By 1938, it was the largest in the world.
To this day it remains a vast facility for refining petroleum. In September 1980, Abadan was almost overrun during a surprise attack on Khuzestan by Iraq, marking the beginning of the Iran-Iraq War. For 18 months Abadan was beseiged, but never captured, by Iraqi forces. Much of the city, including the oil refinery, was badly damaged or destroyed by the siege and by bombing. Previous to the war, the city’s civilian population was about 300,000, but before it was over most of the populous had sought refuge elsewhere in Iran.
After the war, the biggest concern was the rebuilding of Abadan’s oil refinery. In 1993 the refinery began limited operation, and by 1997 it reached the same rate of production it was at before the war.
In 2005, the population was estimated to be at 415,139. The civilian population of the city dropped to near zero during the eight-years Iran–Iraq War. In 1992, only 84,774 had returned to live in the city. By 2001, the population had jumped to 206,073, only to double in the past five years.